Advocate for Web Accessibility with an Elevator Pitch

05-18-20 Catherine Meade

Elevator pitches give accessibility advocates an easy tool for communicating to others why web accessibility is important.

Why should we care about web accessibility? Over 56 million people in the United States (and almost 1 billion worldwide) have some sort of disability. That’s nearly 15% of the global population (and an estimated 6 trillion dollars in spending power) who may access the web in alternative formats.

WCAG itself is huge and technical, but the idea is about access. People with disabilities are provided access to public goods, services, and locations by law, and those laws now extend to the web. In the US, both Section 508 and The Americans with Disabilities Act have been used in court cases to apply to web properties. In 2017, there were over 800 federal lawsuits filed against allegedly inaccessible websites.

Improved web accessibility benefits everyone. Many disabilities permanently alter a person’s access; however, some disabilities are temporary, such as having a broken arm or holding a baby. Additionally, by following the WCAG guidelines, websites have guaranteed improved UX and SEO, which is helpful for all audiences.

Despite these overwhelming benefits, many accessibility advocates struggle when sharing with stakeholders why accessibility should be included in site development and design.

At Sparkbox, we’ve come up with something called the “accessibility elevator pitch,” influenced by start-up CEOs who might pitch their idea to potential investors in what could equate to a 60-second elevator ride. In this video series, our team at Sparkbox has crafted a number of elevator pitches that aim to inform many different types of stakeholders of the value of accessibility.

Watch Our Team’s Accessibility Elevator Pitches on YouTube

How to Create an Accessibility Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches provide us with an easy tool for convincing others that web accessibility is important. Let’s walk through creating an elevator pitch line-by-line.

First, we need an introduction to establish credibility. I could mention that I hold a Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA) IAAP Certification or that I have a lot of experience building accessible websites. But we want to keep this part pretty short so it doesn’t distract from our point. We may be speaking to teammates or clients who already know who we are, in which case, it’s a little silly to introduce ourselves.

“Hello, I’m Catherine, and I’m a developer at Sparkbox, where I lead the Accessibility Task Force.”

Next, we want to share a few statements of fact that will appeal to our audience. It’s important to know who the stakeholder is and why we are trying to convince them accessibility is worthwhile. For example, if I wanted to convince a client to prioritize creating an accessibility plan from the start of a new engagement, I might say something like I said at the beginning of this article:

Over 56 million people in the U.S. alone have a disability. That is a lot of people and a lot of spending power. Websites that meet WCAG guidelines are proven to have increased usability and SEO.”

Finally, we want to appeal to the stakeholder directly by applying the facts to the current situation and ending with a strong call to action.

“If we prioritize accessibility now, it could save us time and money long-term, preventing lawsuits and correcting bugs before they happen. I truly believe including accessibility at the earliest stage possible will help us create a better product for the future.”

That’s it. If we put it all together, we have a strong pitch for accessibility, easily communicated in less than two minutes.

Hello, I’m Catherine, and I’m a developer at Sparkbox, where I lead the Accessibility Task Force. Over 56 million people in the U.S. alone have a disability. That is a lot of people and a lot of spending power. Websites that meet WCAG guidelines are proven to have increased usability and SEO. If we prioritize accessibility now, it could save us time and money long-term, preventing lawsuits and correcting bugs before they happen. I truly believe including accessibility at the earliest stage possible will help us create a better product for the future.

We hope these elevator pitches inspire you and your peers to build a better web through inclusive design. Have an elevator pitch of your own? We’d love to hear it! Share your elevator pitch on Twitter with #A11yElevatorPitch.


ADVOCATING FOR ACCESSIBILITY

You know that accessibility is important, but it may still take some convincing to bring your colleagues around. Corinne has ideas about how to make that happen.